Korean skincare experts have been spreading the gospel of deep cleanses and Glass Skin across the world. Known as K-beauty, Korean skincare wisdom is highly regarded for the fresh perspective it brings to western beauty trends.
K-beauty is a fascinating mixture of ancient traditions and modern skincare discoveries. It’s old and new at the same time, and it’s different from typical western skincare in a few key ways.
Read on to discover Korean skincare routines and secrets that will fit easily into your life.
Use an oil-based cleanser
It may seem counterintuitive to use oil-based products to clean your face — after all, you don’t want oily skin — but this is one of the secrets to K-beauty skincare.
Oil cleansers contain nutrient-rich natural oils like macadamia oil, jojoba oil or grapeseed oil. They mix with the oils on your face, removing the excess when washed away.
The oils don’t sink into your skin or leave an oily residue, but they do contain beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients that will help keep your skin young and healthy.
For example, Okana’s Mango + Apricot Sorbet Cleanser includes apricot kernel oil, macadamia oil, and mango butter. Together they are an amazing cleansing team and the sorbet formula is a pleasure to use. Your skin will also benefit from two healthful fatty acids and vitamins A, C, and E.
If you’ve never used an oil-based cleanser before, you’re going to love how clean, smooth and soft it leaves your skin.
Steam your skin
Korean women have invented a word – steamcial, as in ‘steam facial’. This technique involved using steam to soften your skin and open your pores for a truly deep cleanse.
You can boil the kettle, pour the hot water into a glass bowl, and put a towel over your head to create an enclosed tent. Or else you can simply run the shower on hot to fill the room with steam.
Luxuriate in your steamcial for 10 minutes. Once you’re all steamy, use a face mask or gentle exfoliator to remove impurities from your skin, then finish with an organic toner and moisturiser.
Cleanse when you get home
If you’re planning on staying in, cleanse your face and do your nighttime skincare routine as soon as you get home. Your skin will love you for it.
Cleansing straight away means less time with makeup clogging up your pores and more time for your skin to reap the benefits of a nourishing night cream like Okana’s Berry Blend Night Moisturiser.
Drink barley, ginseng, and green tea
South Koreans are avid tea drinkers — especially barley tea, ginseng tea, and green tea — and this helps contribute to great skin.
Sipping non-caffeinated tea throughout the day is a great way to stay hydrated, especially if you get bored with water. Making sure you get enough water is essential to overall health and skin health.
Barley tea, known as boricha in Korea, is also said to improve circulation and treat skin conditions. Green tea also has many other benefits: it’s packed with antioxidants and nutrients, and it can even improve brain function and help you lose weight.
Control acne with a seaweed mask
If you have acne-prone skin, nori sheets — the seaweed used for sushi — can be used as an easy face mask.
Seaweed has powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce acne symptoms and reduce the chance of future outbreaks. A nori mask will also cleanse your skin while nourishing it with antioxidants and vitamins.
Just cut the nori into strips, soften in warm water, and apply to your face. Relax for 15 minutes, then tone and moisturise.
Bathe your skin in soy milk
Soy milk helps to normalise the function of the sebaceous glands in your skin.
You can give yourself a quick and easy soy milk mask by simply wiping soy milk over clean skin, then leaving it on for about 20 minutes. Then rinse off, tone, and moisturise.
If you’ve ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, you’ve probably encountered kimchi. It’s a fermented side dish made with cabbage, radish, and spring onions.
Eating kimchi introduces beneficial bacteria to your gut, and many doctors say the health of your gut is reflected in the health of your skin.
There are lots of ways to get more kimchi in your diet! Try adding it to scrambled eggs, stirring it through fired rice, or creating some cross-culture cuisine by including it in tacos!
Use an old-fashioned face cloth
In other parts of the world it’s known as a ‘wash cloth’, but in New Zealand, we call them flannels or face cloths.
Using a face cloth to remove your oil-based cleanser is an excellent way to exfoliate your skin. Choose a face cloth with a knobbly texture and you’ll really be winning.
How hard you rub depends on your skin. Some people’s skin can handle a brisk, circular massage with a face cloth, while sensitive skin requires a gentler rubbing action.
Apply several layers of toner
Applying several layers of toner helps to hydrate your skin deeply. You can then add a good moisturiser to hold that hydration in for really lush skin.
The easiest way to do this is with a spray-on toner. Count for about 10 seconds between each misting to let the toner be absorbed fully.
Sunscreen is your friend
Sun damage is one of the leading causes of premature ageing — not mention cancer — so letting go of tanning culture is important for healthy skin. In Korea, a tan is not something people seek out!
Unlike New Zealand and Australian culture, pale skin is sought-after amongst Chinese and Korean women. In Asia, skin cancer accounts for only 1-2% of all cancer diagnoses.
For the sake of your skin in the long-term, it makes sense to give up sunbathing and instead cover up, apply sunblock liberally, and wear a hat.